Merlin Season 1 Episode 1: The Dragon's Call - Download or Stream
Merlin Season 1 Episode 1: The Dragon's Call
Merlin is a British fantasy-adventure television series that reimagines the legend of King Arthur and his wizard Merlin as young men in Camelot. The first episode of the first season, titled "The Dragon's Call", aired on BBC One on 20 September 2008. It introduces the main characters of Merlin (Colin Morgan), Arthur (Bradley James), Morgana (Katie McGrath), Gwen (Angel Coulby), Uther (Anthony Head), Gaius (Richard Wilson), and the Great Dragon (voiced by John Hurt). It also sets up the premise of the series: Merlin has magical powers that he must hide from Uther, who has banned all forms of magic in his kingdom; meanwhile, he learns from the Great Dragon that he has a destiny to protect Arthur until he becomes king and unites Albion.
Summary of the episode
The episode begins with Merlin arriving in Camelot from his village of Ealdor, where his mother has sent him to live with Gaius, the court physician. He witnesses the execution of a man accused of sorcery by King Uther Pendragon, who declares that magic is evil and punishable by death. A hideous old woman, who is revealed to be the mother of the executed man and a powerful sorceress named Mary Collins (Eve Myles), vows revenge on Uther by killing his son Arthur.
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Merlin arrives in Camelot
Merlin meets Gaius (Richard Wilson), who takes him under his wing and warns him to keep his magic secret. He also meets Arthur (Bradley James), Uther's arrogant heir, who challenges him to a duel after he insults him. Merlin uses his magic to knock Arthur down several times, but is stopped by Uther before he can finish him off. He also meets Morgana (Katie McGrath), Uther's ward and Arthur's half-sister; Gwen (Angel Coulby), Morgana's maid and friend; and Geoffrey of Monmouth (Michael Cronin), Camelot's librarian The Great Dragon tells Merlin his destiny
Merlin hears a voice in his head calling him to the dungeons, where he finds a chained dragon (voiced by John Hurt) who claims to be the last of his kind. The dragon tells Merlin that he has a great destiny: to protect Arthur, who is the Once and Future King, and to help him bring magic back to the land. He also tells him that he can call him by using a dragon-shaped pendant that he gives him. Merlin is skeptical and reluctant, but the dragon insists that they are bound by fate.
Lady Helen tries to kill Arthur
Mary Collins disguises herself as Lady Helen (also played by Eve Myles), a famous singer who is invited to perform at a feast in honor of Arthur's birthday. She uses a magical creature called a Sidhe to possess Lady Helen's body and kill her. She then plans to use her song to enchant everyone at the feast and make them fall asleep, while she stabs Arthur with a dagger. However, Merlin overhears her talking to the Sidhe and realizes her true identity. He tries to warn Gaius, but he doesn't believe him. He then tries to stop her by using his magic, but he is caught by Uther's guards and thrown into the dungeons.
Merlin becomes Arthur's servant
Merlin manages to escape from the dungeons with the help of the dragon, who tells him to go to the feast and save Arthur. He arrives just in time to see Mary Collins singing her song and putting everyone to sleep. He uses his magic to break her spell and wake up Arthur, who fights her off. Mary Collins reveals her true form and tries to kill Arthur with her magic, but Merlin deflects her blast and kills her instead. Uther praises Merlin for saving Arthur's life and rewards him by making him his manservant. Merlin is dismayed, as he doesn't like Arthur, but he accepts his new role. Arthur is also annoyed, as he thinks Merlin is a coward and a fool, but he tolerates him. The episode ends with Merlin and Arthur bickering as they walk away from the feast.
Analysis of the episode
The first episode of Merlin sets the tone and the style of the series, which combines fantasy, adventure, comedy, drama, and romance. It also establishes the main characters and their relationships, as well as the conflict between magic and tyranny that drives the plot. The episode has many strengths and weaknesses, as well as themes and messages that are relevant to the audience. It also showcases the visual effects and music that enhance the story and create a sense of wonder. The episode received mixed reviews from critics and positive feedback from viewers, as well as high ratings and awards nominations.
Strengths and weaknesses
One of the strengths of the episode is the casting of the actors, who bring their characters to life with charisma and chemistry. Colin Morgan portrays Merlin as a likable, witty, and brave hero who struggles with his secret power and his destiny. Bradley James plays Arthur as a cocky, arrogant, but noble prince who has a good heart underneath his bravado. Katie McGrath depicts Morgana as a beautiful, mysterious, and rebellious lady who has a hidden connection to magic. Angel Coulby portrays Gwen as a kind, loyal, and courageous maid who has a crush on Arthur. Anthony Head delivers a powerful performance as Uther, a ruthless king who loves his son but hates magic. Richard Wilson adds humor and wisdom as Gaius, a mentor figure for Merlin who knows more than he lets on. John Hurt lends his voice to the Great Dragon, a majestic and mysterious creature who guides Merlin on his path.
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Another strength of the episode is the humor that balances out the darker elements of the story. The episode has many funny moments that showcase the personalities of the characters and their interactions with each other. For example, when Merlin first meets Arthur, he calls him "a prat" and "a clotpole", which become his nicknames for him throughout the series. When Merlin becomes Arthur's servant, he complains about his chores and makes sarcastic remarks about his boss. When Uther asks Merlin what he would do if he had magic, Merlin says he would turn him into a toad.
A weakness of the episode is the lack of depth in some of the characters and their motivations. The episode focuses mainly on introducing Merlin and Arthur, while leaving Morgana and Gwen underdeveloped. Morgana only appears in a few scenes, where she expresses her sympathy for magic users and her disdain for Uther's policies. Gwen only has one significant scene with Merlin, where she helps him dress up for the feast and tells him about Lady Helen's reputation. The villain of the episode, Mary Collins, is also very one-dimensional: she is motivated by her grief and anger, and has no personality or backstory beyond that. Her plan to kill Arthur is also very simplistic and predictable, and relies on a lot of coincidences and luck.
A possible way to improve the episode would be to give Mary Collins more depth and complexity, such as showing her relationship with her son, explaining why she hates Uther so much, or revealing some hidden agenda or twist in her scheme. For example, maybe she could have been working for a bigger villain, such as Morgause or Nimueh, who have a larger role in the series. Or maybe she could have had some connection to Merlin or Arthur, such as being a relative or a former ally, that would create some conflict or drama.
Themes and messages
One of the themes of the episode is the contrast between magic and tyranny, and how they affect the lives of the characters. Uther is shown as a cruel and oppressive ruler who fears and hates magic, and who executes anyone who practices it. He believes that magic is evil and corrupting, and that it must be eradicated for the sake of p